Megaphono: Monobrow, Dead Centuries & Destroy Clocks
February 13, 2019
by Anna Rickenbacher
Day three of Megaphono at House of Targ hosted three fierce Ottawa bands, leading the crowd through the late night in a saga of epicness and doom. WARNING: these bands contain some heavy riffs.
Destroy Clocks rolled on first with dragging riffs and some super intense piano chords. The post-metal/shoegaze trio’s noise was dynamic, mixing pale vocals and delicate licks with fiery instrumentals.
Tyler Black’s cymbals rippled through each song. The drums helped a powerful beat for the sounds swimming around it. They stampeded along, pushing forward the 12-string guitar, which even without a bass held up it’s fullness. Build-ups got eyes widening and bodies moving in the crowd, while slow and eerie metal solos crept up on you and marked different steps in each progressive tune.
Neurosis inspired riffs carried the audience through the set. Mangled versions of them were echoed on the keyboard, which sort of stuck out, chopping up, and sometimes taking away from the smoothness of the music.
Guitarist Kevin N. Hell shared vocals with Nicole Lefebvre. Hell’s voice was stressed and escaped the throat in sharp blues and bubbling, blistering oranges. Tense and shrill, Hell sang verses in single pitched but forceful shrieks. Lefebvre’s vocals were soft in comparison: clean, melodic, fluctuating. They seemed out of place at first, but as the set went on Lefebvre’s vocals complimented the harshness of the guitar, and even transformed into more spitting, snarling growls. At moments, I felt Lefebvre’s voice took a Courtney Love-ish kind of vibe, especially in the band’s smashing cover of Fugazi’s “Suggestion”.
Destroy Clocks totally set the dark and heavy mood for the night. Post-metal and avant-metal fans should keep their eyes peeled, as the group hinted at their upcoming record.
Up next was Dead Centuries, another local troupe who served up some futuristic instrumental prog-metal. In my note-taking, I believe I wrote “something out of a 90’s racing video game soundtrack”.All I can say is that you’ll want to drive as fast as these guys can jam.
They kicked off out of nowhere with a quick tune to grab the venue’s attention. Fingers whizzed effortlessly across frets as guitarist Adam Tremblett shredded away at a headless guitar. It sounded brazen yet smooth, almost electronic.
Layers and layers of pitches flowed out of the speakers as guitarist Jacob McSheffrey joined in, tapping just as fast on the strings and forming a complicated mosaic of pitches. The guitars sang through them in bright, clear voices. Chunky, jolting riffs interrupted the convoluted playing. The sudden starts and stops would keep you on your toes, and abrupt endings lead you to short, wacky audio samples played between tracks. Songs seemed to go through chapters, each one peeling back to reveal different moods, speeds and varied techniques.
Though the guitars appeared to be the features of the set, the drums were, of course, crucial. Like all the members, drummer Bryant McNamara showed some mad endurance. McNamara kept the synchronisation of the group at 100% as the drummer attacked the set and sent dense waves of noise from the snare. The double kick pedal picked the pace up and rapidly pumped out a warm, round sound.
A newer, slower song titled “Marauder” seemed to have those Midwestern indie styled cycling guitar parts, really showing how malleable and diverse their playing could be.DeadCenturies closed with two much heavier songs, the last one “Souvenir” with a stupid cool part that had everyone around me head-banging in sync.
My favourite part about these guys was how much fun they looked to be having. They didn’t take themselves too seriously, or flaunt their (undeniably) wicked talent. Bands like Intervals and Toronto’s Protest The Hero were influencers of the band, but they do a good job at making the music their own. And I must add, they do a badass cover of the Super Mario Bros. theme song.
Up last was Ottawa’s stoner doom powerhouse Monobrow.Epic, rumbling and psychedelic, the unvanquishable triorose up to the stage in a literal cloud of smoke. The foggy atmosphere and mystic sound turned House of Targ into a dragon’s cave. The crowd had thinned as the late night became early morning, but those who left totally missed out on a mad journey that was as gloomy as it was captivating and fun.
The guitar and bass merged together in a thick surge of distorted and grimy sound. Vibrations from Sam Beydoun’s bass consumed your body as mean riffs reeled you into midnight. The guitar, played by Paul Slater was haunting—it spiraled from fragile, echoing melodies to swampy, droning chords.
Wailing harmonics and phasing gave a supernatural sort of effect, and highlighted Monobrow’s distinctive sci-fi metal vein. Solos didn’t overpower, instead praised the other instrumentals while playing around with tone and effects.
Drummer Brian Ahopelto ripped through the set, adapting to each stage of their music. Each strike of the snare was firm, and Ahopelto moved rapidly in fills making the drums bubble and boil. The cymbals were washed and sent consistent lashing waves through the venue.
The musicians harmonized greatly together, they could probably all play in their sleep. Each element of the music coiled together and paid homage to one and other. Songs seemed to go on for years but no one wanted them to end, the crowd even chanting for an encore. When songs did finish, they were left open and lingering, leaving you waiting for the next phase of spookiness.
Monobrow are a Targ favourite, and I can see why. The band released a live album of this gig on Bandcamp (titled “Targed Again!”) which is worth giving a glance, but hearing these dudes in person is really where it’s at.